The small Ferapontov convent, located 130 km to the north of Vologda, is a unique monument of the Old Russian painting due to the fact that in 1502 the Nativity cathedral was painted by the famous Russian icon painter Dionysus and his sons.
In 2000 the Ferapontov convent was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, along with the monuments of Moscow and St. Petersburg, which emphasize its exceptional value. The frescoes of Dionysus are in the oldest Nativity cathedral (1490) of the Ferapontov convent.
The Ferapontov convent was founded by Saint Ferapont in 1397, who came from Moscow together with his fellow monk Saint Kirill of Beloozero. They founded the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery on the bank of Lake Siverskoye. However, almost at once Ferapont left Kirill (Cyril) and founded his own monastery 20 kilometers away. Eventually the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery became the largest fortress in Russia, and the Ferapontov convent – a monument of the Old Russian painting.
The Ferapontov convent is on the hill over the village Ferapontovo. Stone buildings had been erected there since 1490, including the main church of the convent – the Nativity cathedral. In 1530 the Annunciation church was built and in 1640 - the church of Saint Martinian.
In 1502 the most famous Russian icon painter Dionysius was invited to paint the Nativity cathedral. It took him and his sons only 34 days, from August, 6 to September, 8, to paint the entire church. The total area of the frescoes of Dionysius is 600 m2.
After the Saviour Church on Nereditsa in Veliky Novgorod (also Novgorod the Great) was ruined during the World War II, the Ferapontov convent became the only monument of the Old Russian painting of such scale in Russia.
You can get to the Ferapontov convent either by car from Vologda or with the river cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg. During the cruise the ships stop at the village Goritsy from where tourists are taken to the Ferapontov convent and the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery.